Category Archives: The Business of Writing

How NOT to Dread Deadlines

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Why are deadlines important? Because publishing is a schedule based business. When a book receives a publication date, everything moves toward the date when that book goes to the printer. If the book isn’t ready, printing presses stand idle, and time is money.

Many authors feel enslaved by deadlines. But what if how they think about them could change that? On his leadership web page, author and motivational speaker, Stan Toler, offers five positive ways to perceive deadlines. He says:

Deadlines are friends. You created them to assist you. Treat them with respect and they will be loyal to you. Ignore them and they may haunt you. They are not there to harass you; they are there to help you. Like a friend, you check on them, give them space, and remember their birthdates and anniversaries.

Deadlines are property lines. They are the imaginary spaces where your ideas and ideals live. As property lines, they need to be detailed, recorded, and guarded from intruders—such as time-wasters or attention-grabbers.

Deadlines are destination points. Like entering a travel location on your GPS, you create a deadline so you can journey toward it. There may be “points of interest” along the way, but their destination is your end goal.

Deadlines are managers. You gave them permission to keep you on the straight and narrow. In return, they give you friendly reminders of neglect, lack of focus, or impulsive behavior. You don’t need to fear them. They are not immovable. And if they are not flexible, they may need to be replaced.

Deadlines are volunteer staff. You appointed them, not vice versa. They are the stagehands, but you run the show. They embody your vision. You are only bound to them by loyalty. They have no overruling authority.”

Incorporate Toler’s suggestions when you write and revise. Remember–you control deadlines; they don’t control you. Meeting, even exceeding, them is a sure way to forge a great relationship with your publisher.

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Filed under Deadlines, The Business of Writing, Tools for Writers, Uncategorized, working with editors, Writer's responsibility

Freelancing. Is It Right for You?

1320170763_freelancer_life_by_asuka111Two decades ago, the publishing company I worked for relocated. I was out of a job, and I decided then to freelance. The decision wasn’t easy. I faced a sluggish economy. If freelance statistics were correct, I was setting myself up to fail. Still, I decided to try. Here I am, twenty years later, still freelancing! It hasn’t always been easy, but it has been worth it.

If you are thinking about freelancing, here are some pros and cons.

pros

PROS . . .

You are the boss (most of the time). You own your business; you are responsible for every aspect. Still, you need to remember that yours is a service business. In that way you work for your clients.

You can pursue your passion. If writing is your thing, you can write. Maybe you love editing or consulting. Freelancing allows you to pursue what you love.

You control when you work. No more 9-to-5 job. You choose when you work; however, this comes with a hitch—you need to be self-disciplined and manage yourself to make the most of your work time.

You control where you work. All you need is a laptop and you can take your office anywhere. Using Skype or Facetime, you can even meet with faraway clients in your home, a coffee house, or wherever.

You get to choose. Maybe you want to specialize in an area that suits you, or maybe you want a lot of variety. You get to choose the kinds of projects you work on.

 

cons

CONS . . .

You wear many hats. Freelancing means that you do all the creative work as well as sales and marketing, invoicing, signing contracts, troubleshooting technology, keeping track of tax deductible business expenses, making estimated tax payments, and so on.

Your salary is unpredictable. You can’t control when projects come or how much you might earn in any given month. Often, you can’t control when you get paid. Some clients pay 50% when the contract is signed and 50% on the project’s completion. Others pay 100% on completion. Most pay within 30 days and others 60 or even 90 days.

Your schedule is unpredictable. You never know when a client will contact you with a project. All projects have deadlines. You need to decide how much work you can take on and still meet those deadlines. Sometimes, your calendar will be wide open. Other times, you will be juggling several projects at once and even have to turn projects down.

You worry about job security. There will be times when work is slow. Maybe you lost a big client. The publishing industry might be in a slump. There are many reasons to be concerned when you have no work for weeks or even months. It’s important to expect and to plan ahead for those times.

You feel isolated. Freelancing comes with independence and that can lead to isolation. You are the boss, but you have no employees. Your partners are your clients, but your relationship with them exists only in emails and occasional phone calls. Unless you make a real effort to take your office to other venues, you will be working at home all the time.

Weigh the pros and cons. Then ask yourself, “Is this for me?” If your answer is, “Yes,” then get going. Dive in. See where the journey takes you.

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Transitioning Your Writing from Hobby to Career—the Cold, Hard Truth

highres_244142317Is fear stopping you from turning your writing hobby into a career? Then it’s time to put on your big girl or big boy pants and stop being afraid. Accept the cold, hard truth that the transition won’t be easy—then muster your confidence and say, “But I can do it!”

A writing career is a journey. There will be mountains, valleys, and exhilarating straightaways. It’s frustrating, wildly fulfilling, exciting, and frightening.

The transition will take time. Many would-be authors fail because they rush to submit their work before it’s ready. Don’t send your first manuscript to an agent or editor until you’ve done the research. Discover what it takes to get published. Be patient.

Jane Friedman, former publisher of Writer’s Digest, has an excellent web page for writers. Read her blog post: Start Here: How to Get Your Book Published.

Writing is a craft to be learned. Read about writing. Here are five books to get you started:

  • Stephen King’s On Writing
  • William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White, The Elements of Style
  • Annie Dillard. The Writing Life
  • The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
  • On Writing Well by William Zinsser

While you learn the craft also read books in the genre in which you want to write. Study how the authors’ work reflects what you’ve learned.

Visit New York Times best-selling author, Nicholas Sparks’ (The Notebook, Message in a Bottle, Nights in Rodanthe) web page where he offers advice about the craft and business of writing.

imagesWriting is a craft developed through practice. There are always ways to improve your writing… always better ways to say something. Whenever you edit and rewrite, you practice the craft. To transition from a hobby writer to a professional you need to realize that editing and rewriting (a lot!) is essential.

Accept that you will fail. The first time you get negative feedback. The first rejection letter. The first bad review. Expect it. Deal with it. Don’t dwell on it. Professional writers learn to live with rejection.

“Rejection has value. It teaches us when our work or our skill set is not good enough and must be made better . . . Rejection refines us. Those who fall prey to its enervating soul-sucking tentacles are doomed. Those who persist past it are survivors. Best ask yourself the question: what kind of writer are you? The kind who survives? Or the kind who gets asphyxiated by the tentacles of woe?” – Chuck Wendig, author of Star Wars: Aftermath

1173079_165591560470377_584163750_nDon’t quit your day job. Whether you want to be a multi-book novelist or a freelance writer, understand that building a career takes time. Plan to spend a specific amount of time every day working toward your goal. Remember—slow and steady wins the race.

It won’t be easy. That’s the cold, hard truth.
But—can you do it?
YES! YES, YOU CAN!!

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Filed under Aspiring Writers, Encouragement, Movtivation, The Business of Writing, Uncategorized, writing, Writing craft, Writing goals, Writing Tips